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The Patriots should be hoping that Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos knock off the top-seeded Houston Texans in the divisional round and allow the AFC title game to be played at Gillette Stadium. The Broncos coming to Foxboro is a realistic scenario, and it seems to be the best option for the Patriots in a possible conference championship game.
With the amount of history between the Patriots and the Broncos—including Manning and John Fox—the Patriots would welcome the team that is virtually identical to the one that they blew out in the playoffs a season ago. The one addition, of course, is Manning. He will be enough to make this more of a game than it otherwise would be, but just like it went in Week 5, the Patriots offense will be too much to handle for the Broncos defense.
The Denver defense has playmakers who will show up a handful of times on the afternoon, but in the end, the Patriots should have no problem to put up 30-plus points as they did the first time around. If Brady has all of his weapons back in time for this game, even Manning may have trouble outscoring the Patriots.
If this game comes to be, the revamped New England secondary will play a large role in whether or not the Patriots represent their conference in the Super Bowl.